ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Sociological Theory, RC16

RC16 main page

Program Coordinators

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 26.

 

For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program

 

Asian Values or East Asianism Revisited

Session Organizer
Seung-Kuk KIM, Pusan National University, Korea, skkim21@pusan.ac.kr

Session in English

This session starts from the critical reflection that the Asian values debate in 1990s is not finished but an ongoing civilizational question raised already in the late 19th and early 20th century in East Asia when the “modern” West (& Japan as an early adapter) and the “un-modern” East clashed. With the rise of East Asia in post-modern context, East Asian values do matter again.

The session invites papers that consider the following issues:

 

Civil Societies in Comparative, Institutional, and Theoretical Terms

Session Organizer
Jason MAST, University of Warwick, United Kingdom, j.l.mast@warwick.ac.uk

Session in English

Much recent theorizing and empirical research has placed civil society back into the center of social scientific discourse. Civil societies increasingly address issues global in scale, such as climate change, economic crises, and intra- and international armed conflicts and humanitarian efforts. This session is particularly focused on how public opinion formations within civil societies either shape or fail to shape state actions on international issues, and on how differences between civil societies direct international relations toward conflict or cooperation. The session is also open to research that examines differences between civil societies, either across nations or over time, in terms of their varying cultural and discursive structures, their institutional logics, their paths to formation, or their modes of inclusion and exclusion.

 

Contested Modernities in Theory and Practice

Session Organizer
Isaac REED, University of Colorado, USA, isaac.reed@colorado.edu

Session in English

“Modernity” is both a central organizing concept in abstract social theory and an inflamed point of disputation. The “multiple modernities” rendering of the concept has been both hailed as a new paradigm for our age and criticized as a retread of modernization theory. Sociological theories of globalization often contain within them a notion of spreading or diffusing modernity or postmodernity, while other accounts of the contemporary globe argue that diffusionist models are insufficient to understand the history, power politics, and violence of “modernity.” Simultaneous to all of these theorizing, discourses of modernity are a central feature of the postcolonial era, mobilized by all sorts of individual and corporate actors for various political, economic, and cultural purposes. This session will explore how careful theorizing about modernity can enable better analysis of its uses and abuses.

 

Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Political Space

Session Organizer
Gilles VERPRAET, CNRS, France, gilles.verpraet@ehess.fr

Session in English

The notions of cosmopolitanism exceed the nationalist positioning (Beck, Delanty), so to recognize the different cultures (Jullien), and to promote a reciprocity of perspectives (Schutz). The first step intends to question the conditions of intersubjectivity inside the transnational spaces when exist some cosmopolitan stages (Saito). It invites to develop the pragmatic studies of cosmopolitan relations (N Anderson). In a second stance, the sociological elaboration on the reciprocity of perspectives may enlighten the conditions of reciprocity inside international relations. At this level, can be considered the Asian debates between monologic universalism and dialogic universalism (Shijun). How to elaborate a culture-focused universalism?

The session is concerned with thick descriptions of the cosmopolitan encounters considering their symbolic performances (Alexander, 2006) It questions the new styles of action that are developed in the micro/ macro links (Giesen), the political subjects who are connecting the global and the local issues. In this framework can be specified the new conditions for transnational solidarities, the connections of public spheres between Polis, nation and cosmopolitanism, the new relations between center and periphery, the north/south solidarities.

 

Cultural Pragmatics and Social Theory: The Implications of Performance Theory for the Study of Society

Session Organizer
Jeffrey ALEXANDER, Yale University, USA, jeffrey.alexander@yale.edu

Session in English

Over the last decade, macro-sociological theory has made significant strides in conceptualizing groups, individuals, and institutions in terms of social performance. Earlier, the concept of performance related principally to the microsociological, Goffmanian tradition. The new development, by contrast, links classical and modern traditions of social theory with aesthetic theories of theatre, drama, and film. Contributors to this session are asked either to reflect on this recent performative turn in cultural sociology, providing new interpretations, or to advance this turn, demonstrating how cultural pragmatics, or other performative theories, can bring new perspectives to bear on social problems and/or on particular sociological fields.

 

Discovering and Locating the Legacies of Japanese Sociological Theories

Session Organizer
Takashi OKUMURA, Rikkyo University, Japan, t-oku@rikkyo.ac.jp

Session in English

Sociological theories in Japan have been developing under vast and profound influences of Western sociology. We can count, however, some very productive and original sociologists, whose theories would have had possibilities to give strong impacts to the rest of the world if their works had been translated into English on publication. For example, works of Munesuke Mita (1937- ) about social consciousness (including “The Hell of Others’ Eyes” (1973) and Comparative Sociology of Time (1981)), those of Keiichi Sakuta (1922- ) on the deep structure of society (The Destiny of Individualism (1981) and Towards the Sociology of Becoming (1993)), and system theory of Tamito Yoshida (1931-2009) about information and possession (Theory of Information and Self-organization (1990) and Theory of Possession and Subjectivity (1991)) would be among them.

Supposing Japanese sociologists now represent their (or some other important theorists’) original ideas properly after a few decades (in English, of course!), how will sociologists from the world react to them and locate them into their theoretical frameworks? This session is welcoming papers dealing with these legacies of Japanese sociology by members from Japan mainly (but not exclusively), with a hope to have stimulating discussions with participants from the world at the venue.

 

Entertainment, Leisure, Sport, and Civil Society

Session Organizer
Ronald JACOBS, University at Albany, USA, rjacobs@albany.edu

Session in English

Theories of civil society generally take as their object political discourse, social crisis, cultural trauma, and other events that typically get covered in the front pages of the newspaper. For many individuals, groups, and communities, however, their most significant civic investments are directed toward sports, leisure activities, and other forms of entertainment. This session invites papers that consider the roles that these kinds of entertainment practices play in organizing civic life and public sphere communications.

 

Intellectuals and Politics

Session Organizer
Patrick BAERT, Cambridge University, United Kingdom, pjnb100@cam.ac.uk

Session in English

This session explores the various sociological approaches to the study of intellectuals. We hope to include theoretically informed empirical contributions as well as theoretical reflections on the sociology of intellectuals. We also welcome studies of the phenomenon of public intellectuals, including papers that engage with new forms of public engagement.

 

Issues, Problems, and Potential in the Study of Symbolic Violence

Session Organizers
Mustafa EMIRBAYER, University of Wisconsin, USA, emirbaye@ssc.wisc.edu
Erik SCHNEIDERHAN, University of Toronto, Canada, e.schneiderhan@utoronto.ca

Session in English

Weber observed that domination cannot sustain itself indefinitely through sheer force alone, while Bourdieu spoke extensively of “symbolic violence,” the perpetuation of domination through the active complicity of the dominated. This panel examines closely the processes and mechanisms of symbolic violence – and also reflects critically on the concept itself, its strengths and weaknesses, and its place in the tradition of sociological theorizing. Papers of both theoretical and substantive nature are welcomed.

 

Japanese Contemporary Social Theory Seen from the Inside and Outside

Session Organizers
Anthony ELLIOTT, University of South Australia, Australia, anthony.elliott@unisa.edu.au
Atsushi SAWAI, Keio University, Japan, sawai@law.keio.ac.jp
Masataka KATAGIRI, Chiba University, Japan

Session in English

Organizers have published Routledge Companion to Contemporary Japanese Social Theory in 2012. The book introduces, contextualizes and critiques social theories in the broader context of Japanese society, culture and politics with particular emphasis upon Japanese engagements and revision of major traditions of social thoughts. Divided into two parts, the book survey traditions of social thoughts in Japanese social science and presents the major social issues facing contemporary Japan. On the bases of the book, organizers collect presenters including contributors of the book and hold session to examine the possibilities and difficulties of the development of Japanese contemporary social thought seen from inside and outside.

 

Jeffrey Alexander in East Asia

Session Organizers
Seung-Kuk KIM, Pusan National University, Korea, skkim21@pusan.ac.kr
Kiyomitsu YUI, Kobe University, Japan, yui@lit.kobe-u.ac.jp

Session in English

East Asianizing (e.g. Japanizing, Chinizing, Taiwanizing or Koreanizing) the Western sociological theories and developing theories of East Asian style has been an urgent task for East Asian sociological theorists. We invite papers that critically consider, in the context of East Asian theory building, the sociological theories of Jeffery Alexander such as neo-functionalism, civil society, cultural sociology, etc. The theoretical quest for “provincializing Alexander” or “from Alexander to East Asian way of theorizing” is of particular interest. Papers dealing with the ways in which Alexander is specifically employed or modified in theory construction are also welcomed. (In our session, any individual country in East Asia may represent East Asia as a symbolic whole. East Asia is both an invention and a method.)

 

Media, Aesthetics, Representation: Theorizing Suffering, Expertise, and other Public Claims

Session Organizer
Matthias REVERS, University at Albany, USA, mrevers@albany.edu
Vikki BELL, Goldsmiths University, United Kingdom, v.bell@gold.ac.uk
Fuyuki KURASAWA, York University, Canada, kurasawa@yorku.ca

Session in English

We have witnessed an increasing digitization of public communication and expansion of online spheres of action for the last two decades. In scholarly time, this is still fairly recent and, despite tremendous research efforts in this area, there is still a high demand for theories and analytical tools beyond science and technology studies approaches to characterize associated transformations and processes:
These are just some of the questions that could be addressed in this session, which invites purely theoretical/conceptual as well as theoretically-minded empirical papers.

 

Modernity and Critique

Session Organizer
Craig BROWNE, University of Sydney, Australia, craig.browne@sydney.edu.au

Session in English

This session considers whether there have been significant changes in the relationship between modernity and critique. It could be argued that critique is a core dimension of modernity, since it differentiated modernist perspectives from traditional justifications and critique could be related to the modern normative ideals of autonomy and progress. At the same time, modernity has been viewed as the precondition for the actualization of critique and it has been suggested that critique must be consistent with the rationality that is a basic stipulate of modernity.

Of course, these visions of an interconnection between modernity and critique have been subjected to a multitude of challenges, like those from feminist perspectives, postmodernist approaches, and postcolonial positions. There have been various redefinitions of each of the categories of modernity and critique in recent sociological theory, particularly in response to historically significant social changes and uncertainties concerning the trajectories of modernized and modernizing societies. These theoretical innovations have included arguments about the premodern sources of critique in the antinomian strands of world religions and popular culture, the elaboration of the contrast between critical sociology and the sociology of critique, and the debates within Critical Social Theory over the normative and political bases of critique in recognition and redistribution.

Similarly, different emphases have been given in recent sociological theory to the notion of modernity, with the accentuation of the institution of social imaginaries and distinctive cultural understandings of the world, the global character of modern institutions and the idea of variations within a common civilization that produces multiple modernities, and the highlighting of the crises and paradoxes that have ensued from preceding critiques and the transformation of capitalism in light of the social struggles attendant on critique. Papers are invited that address the conjunction between modifications in the conception of modernity and redefinitions of critique.

 

National Futures

Session Organizer
Brad WEST, University of South Australia, Australia, brad.west@unisa.edu.au

Session in English

This session invites papers that examine the future of the nation and the establishment of interconnections between the global and national. Where once there was a general consensus that the nation is an outdated source of identity with little role to play in a ‘global’ future, an emerging literature is considering the possibilities of national re-enchantment, the significance of national entities in addressing global problems and broadly the different ways national traditions interact with postmodern forces. This works fills an important gap in the literature on global transformations. Despite most globalization scholars no longer assuming that cultural influences across state boundaries result in a mono-culture, the nation is frequently lost within the local/global binary.

The theme also addresses key failings within sociological theory that while long acknowledging the adaptive powers of capitalism, has conceived of the nation in terms of its inherent qualities that either endure or disintegrate in the face of contemporary socio-political change.

This session thus invites papers that seek to consider the ways in which the nation might have a viable future. Possible themes for papers are how national traditions withstand or incorporate global influences; the role of ritual in national collective memory being reimagined in culturally relevant ways and the constructive role the nation can play in addressing global issues such as climate change, humanitarian aid and terrorism.

 

Pollution, Defilement and Disgust

Session Organizer
Philip SMITH, Yale University, USA, philip.smith@yale.edu

Session in English

It is a commonplace in cultural theory to suggest that arbitrary meanings establish boundaries. What is less often noticed is that some boundaries are stronger than others. Not merely cognitive, these evoke responses far more powerful than the raised eyebrows and rolled eyes that accompany, to note two recent examples, "poor" music choices or "profligate" lunch spending. The most powerful boundaries mark out visceral reservoirs of hatred horror and abjection. They also provide unique performative opportunities for ritual defilement and pleasurable transgression. Over the years theorists such as Douglas, Durkheim, Kristeva, Elias, Freud and Bataille have provided amazing insight into the world of the forbidden and revolting. The session is interested in work informed by their legacy, and in particular in studies that surpass and augment rather than merely deploy such familiar resources.

 

RC16 Business Meeting

Session Organizer


 

Second-Modern Transformation in East and West

Session Organizer
Sang-Jin HAN, Seoul National University, Korea, hansjin@snu.ac.kr

Session in English

Central for the session is a self-conscious examination of the non-Western developmental experiences to open up a space in which the possibility of constructing an alternative social theory of second modernity can be jointly explored while constructively pursuing dialogue with the dominant Western social theories today. Particular attention will be paid to East Asia where a catch-up modernization has taken place successfully at the cost of the unanticipated consequences of complex risks, thereby producing enormous public demands for a new development. Against this background attempts will be made to examine why and how such themes as risk governance, individualization, family solidarity, cosmopolitan urban development, new media and citizens’ participation, tradition and identity, human rights, and so on, have evolved in multiple historical trajectories while converging into an overall direction of second modernity.

 

Sociological Inquiry into the Theory of Modernization in Japan

Session Organizers
Josuke AMADA, Ritsumeikan University, Japan, josuke.amada@nifty.com
Kiyomitsu YUI, Kobe University, Japan, yui@lit.kobe-u.ac.jp

Session in English

How the theory of modernization has been developed and shaped as a social theory in a certain society is a question to be discussed sociologically. In particular, various developed countries experienced significant changes in norms and social systems after the 1960s, and sociologists in the latter half of the 20th century have struggled with how to theorize these changes. “Reflexive modernization” and “risk societies” have been discussed as examples of such theorizations, and within these theories modern society has been positioned as “late modernity.”

Looking back at history, however, reveals that modernization of this kind, especially the reflexive dynamism which is spoken of as a characteristic of late modernity, is not that simple. The theory of modernization is especially complicated in the case of Japan, a country which began modernization later than its Western counterparts. The approach based on “overcoming modernity," for example, which emerged out of the “Kyoto school” of philosophers prior to the Second World War, held that Japan enjoyed a privileged position from which to respond to Western modernization because it is an Asian country and was a latecomer to modernization. There was also an attempt to construct a social theory based on the “self-application of modernization” which would “reflect on” the modernization that had arisen as “reflection on tradition” during a period of turmoil in the 1930s and 1940s, but at the same time the irony of the fact that this easy “self-application of modernization” was itself intertwined with tradition was also discussed. In this way theories of modernization in East Asia were in a sense developed in the form of piled-up "excessive refraction." This resulted in a unique posture of “distance” or “refraction” regarding socialism and “the social.”

This session examines how social theory in modern Japan, in particular the theory of modernization, has been discussed within the context of historical dynamism, and how this discourse has been developed in relation to "the social." This discussion should clarify the distinctiveness of the theories of modernization that were developed in Japan and East Asia, and this XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology held in Yokohama presents an especially suitable opportunity to examine this topic.

 

Theories of Materiality and Material Culture

Session Organizer
Dominick BARTMANSKI, Masaryk University, Czech Republic, dominik.bartmanski@aya.yale.edu

Session in English

One of the key challenges of meaning-centered cultural sociology is to face the findings of material culture studies and to come to terms with the implications of the iconic turn. The structuralist assumption of arbitrariness of cultural sign is of limited service in explaining the power of complex representational economies and its variability. There is ample evidence that most social signifiers are not just “the garb of meaning,“ to use the insightful phrase of the American anthropologist Webb Keane. Rather, the actual significatory structures and their material/aesthetic properties co-constitute meanings. Therefore more integrative and multidimensional models of culture in action are nowadays both needed and made possible by emergence of the systematic research agendas organized around such master categories as performativity, iconicity and materiality. This session is devoted to new explorations in these overlapping cutting-edge domains. The goal is to discuss their sociological promise and challenges, and ascertain how they transform cultural scholarship today.

 

Theorizing Circulation: Revisiting the Metaphors for the Travel of Culture, Ideas, And Symbols

Session Organizer
Gianpaolo BAIOCCHI, Brown University, USA, gianpaolo_baiocchi@brown.edu

Session in English

There has been renewed attention across the social sciences and humanities to the issue of the circulation of culture, broadly conceived. This has come under many guises and has animated many a debate across disciplines – from the "diffusion of policy ideas" in political science, to the translation of scientific standards in STS, to the travel of culture in anthropology, among many others. At heart of each is a metaphor for the movement of ideas from place to place. This session invites papers that critically consider the theoretical problem of understanding that movement from a variety of perspectives.

 

Theorizing Legacy: Does the Past Have Power over Political Events

Session Organizer
Mabel BEREZIN, Cornell University, USA, mabel.berezin@cornell.edu

Session in English

Analysts sometimes speak of legacies as if they were simple repetitions of the past in the present. In contrast to this static position, this panel argues that legacies represent the intersection of history and culture. Legacies are dynamic and ever re-combining. Legacies are sometimes dormant; they sometimes re-emerge in unexpected ways. This panel seeks papers that take this dynamic view of legacies to examine how the past may or may not influence the shape and trajectory of political events.

 

Theorizing Sexuality

Session Organizers
Giuseppe SCIORTINO, University of Trento, Italy, giuseppe.sciortino@unitn.it
Martina CVAJNER, Yale University, USA, martina.cvajner@yale.edu

Session in English

Sexuality is a hot topic in the social sciences. There is an expanding body of empirical research as well as a skyrocketing production of textbooks, handbooks and journals devoted to the analysis of the social studies of sexuality. There is an increasingly large body of ethnographic observations, large scale surveys and social histories available. The sociology of sexuality is a quickly maturing field, often potentially producing strategic research materials for a variety of classical sociological problems.

Theoretical developments, however, are lagging far behind. Most of what is considered theoretical debate is supported by political or ideological assumptions rather than by arguments rooted in analytic problems. It is possible to develop a sociological theory of sexuality able to understand adequately sexual behaviors and sexual meanings? The session is interested in works willing to explore conceptual frameworks and generalized arguments on the sociology of human sexuality.

 

Urban Space and Global Cities

Session Organizer
Agnes KU, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China, soagnes@ust.hk

Session in English

Cities can be seen as nodes within a global economy. The question of how the global and the local intersect in local economic development has received increasing attention in recent years from academics and policy thinkers alike.

This panel welcomes submissions that address issues related to the changing urban forms in the context of globalization, including but not confining to the following:

 

Visual Turn and Popular Culture: Anime, Manga and Comics in Japan, Korea and China

Session Organizer
Kiyomitso YUI, Kobe University, Japan, yui@lit.kobe-u.ac.jp

Session in English

In approaching to the phenomenon of visual popular cultures such as animation, manga and comics, in terms of theoretical framework of visual turn in sociology and W.J.T. Mitchell’s conception of ‘What pictures want?,’ the session will be organized. While the presence of those popular cultures of ‘Anime and Manga’ in the world especially that of pivoting around the phenomenon of costume play called ‘cosplay’ is gaining more worldwide popularity, the scholarly investigation into the phenomenon has been limited to a shallow, journalistic and impressionistic scope. The session will invite those studies in deepening the theoretical insights into the phenomenon basically from the viewpoint of the visual turn of sociology. Especially welcome will be papers that compare the phenomena in Asian countries with that of the USA and Europe.

 

What’s a Collective? The Ontology of Groups, Crowds and Crews

Session Organizers
Frederic VANDENBERGHE, University State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, frederic@iesp.uerj.br
Margaret ARCHER, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, margaret.archer@epfl.ch

Session in English

Half a century ago, we talked about the Proletariat, but without examining too closely the ontological status of collectives as distinct from collectivities: Does a collective exist? Is it just a name? Can it think as a group? Can it act, and if so, how? These questions remain and have re-surfaced in analytical philosophy and social theory. However, their conceptions are diverse and often represent incompatible ontologies of collectives and collective phenomena.

Recent theoretical developments in systems theory, network analysis, actor-network theory, critical realism, pragmatism, phenomenology and analytic philosophy allow for a reconsideration of the question of collective agency and re-conceptualisation of collective intentionality, collective subjectivity, collective reflexivity, plural subjects, intentional communities, coordination of action, etc. There is an upswing in ‘Relational Sociology’ but as it not always clear whether it is persons, groups, things or even relations that are related, this term covers the same spectrum of ontological differences. There are some ‘relationists’ who want to keep their ontology flat and others who endorse a stratified ontology of relationships and their emergent properties and powers. Papers are sought that address these central issues thematically.

 

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